The three-time Lok Sabha MP from Hyderabad questioned the requirement for a three-year prison term in the Bill.
Firebrand MP Asaduddin Owaisi, who staunchly opposed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill on Thursday, has equated the debate in the Lok Sabha with the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
In an exclusive interview with India Today on Friday, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen president said, “The scene in the Lok Sabha was like December 6 (1992). We can neither forget December 6 nor the scene in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.”
When asked that despite his staunch opposition, the Bill was passed, Owaisi said that if a Muslim man divorces his wife by saying the word ‘talaq’ thrice, it is a crime and should be stopped, but “there is no empirical data to support the argument that it is such a big social evil that harms society”.
The three-time Lok Sabha MP from Hyderabad questioned the requirement for a three-year prison term in the Bill. “When the Supreme Court (SC) has ruled that merely uttering triple talaq cannot dissolve marriage, what is the requirement for a three years’ jail? We have several laws like section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Sections 20 and 22 of the Domestic Violence Act 2005 and the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986 to protect women.”
Owaisi also questioned the logic for jail term in the Bill. “How will a man who has been jailed for uttering ‘triple talaq” provide allowance/compensation to his wife from prison?”
Owaisi said that he had suggested amendments to desertion and abandonment provisions, but they were not included. “The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) avoids desertion and abandonment amendments due to vested interests while the Congress wants to prove that it is more pro-Hindu than the BJP,” he alleged.
Despite the SC ruling, Muslim men are divorcing their wives by merely saying ‘talaq’ thrice. Why Owaisi objects to a law that wants to end this practice? “Eighty per cent of cases under Section 498A of IPC and the Domestic Violence Act in family court involve non-Muslim women,” he said. Agreeing that Muslim women should be literate and jobs, he demanded seven per cent reservation for educated women from the community. “If the government feels that Muslim women should be educated, they should be provided reservation.”
“What is the guarantee that Muslim women will get justice after the Bill becomes law? The practice of triple talaq cannot be ended by law. You are making a mountain out of a molehill.”
If Dowry Act, Domestic Violence Act, Vishaka Guidelines and other laws were passed for the safety and empowerment of women, why Muslim personal law cannot be changed? “Because we have the constitutional right under Section 25,” he said.
When asked whether he is peeved more at the BJP or the Congress after the Grand Old Party backed the Bill, Owaisi said, “All the parties have been exposed. Their stand on secularism has been exposed.”
Owaisi also denied that the support of Muslim women for Prime Minister Narendra Modi riles him and he fears losing votes of the community.